Simple Tools to Show Employee Appreciation

I just read an article written by J.T. O’Donnell, Founder and CEO of,in which she suggested asking each of your team members one question at the end of the work week before they head home:  What one thing are you most proud of getting done this week?”

O’Donnell, who sounds like my kind of leader, goes on to explain:  “No matter how stressful or busy our week was, I want employees to leave on a positive note. Work is where they spend a third of their lives each week. It’s part of their identity. It’s something they talk about with friends and family over the weekend. Making them feel good about what they do and where they do it is very important to me.” 

O’Donnell’s article reminded me of a story told to me years ago by someone who experienced it.

As a young man Julio’s first job was on the line at a factory. Every Friday, his boss would stand by the time clock and wait for the workers to clock out. As they did, he shook their hands, called them by name and thanked them for the work they had done that week.

When he told me this story, Julio was in his late 50’s. The impact of his boss’ actions never left him. Now a leader himself, he does the equivalent with his team every week.

Whether you are paid to be a leader in your organization or you simply want to make a contribution to improve the work environment, doing either or both of these things supports your intentions:

  • “What was the best part of your week,” and/or
  • “Thanks for the work you did this week.”

And don’t forget to include yourself in this. Sometimes we have to do for ourselves what we wish others would. 

Remember, you get more of what you focus on. By focusing on how much you appreciate your employees and co-workers, they will be more committed to performing in a way that lives up to your appreciation.

Here is the link for O’Donnell’s full article:

OR search for: “Do This 1 Thing Every Friday to Improve Employee Satisfaction” O’Donnell

To schedule a FREE 20-minute phone consultation about how to create a more positive work culture, call 480-560-9452 or email

Want to be Happy at Work? Go Ahead!

It doesn’t matter what you do for your team or for yourself. If you’re determined to be unhappy, then circumstances don’t matter.

I can just hear the hue and cry. “You just don’t get it.  I WANT to be happy. I WANT to be engaged at work but the behavior of (fill in the blank: coworker, boss, subordinates) is standing in my way.”

Poppycock. (Did she say, “Poppycock? Who says that these days?”)

You can get frustrated without getting discouraged. You can be disappointed without giving up. And you can be happy even in the face of incredible challenges. In fact, some of the unhappiest people I know seem to have no challenges at all! They’re rich, they’re healthy and successful beyond all measures. And they are completely miserable.

Conversely, we all know those who are struggling financially, have family members who are ill, and cannot seem to get ahead. And yet they are happy. Probably because they’re focused on helping others instead of whining about their own lives.

Happiness has everything to do with focus. Where’s your focus? Are you focused on what works in your job or on all the things that you believe to be wrong? Are you focused on the value of your teammates or are you continually searching for ways they don’t measure up? Are you doing the same to yourself?

The title of this blog came from a story I heard once. A young man finally decided he was an addict and he needed to stop drinking and taking drugs. After he was clean and sober for six months, he was complaining to his counselor, “Nothing’s really changed. I’m still miserable. All I want is to be happy.” The counselor looked at him thoughtfully and then responded, “Go ahead! Who’s trying to stop you?”

Who indeed?

To schedule a FREE 20-minute phone consultation about how to create a more positive work culture, call 480-560-9452 or email

Strengthening Relationships

What if the most common workplace relationship issues could be cleared up by taking the following proactive step: treat others the way THEY want to be treated?

In my program How to Get Along with Difficult People I often hear participants express astonishment at how others behave or communicate. And what always makes me laugh (on the inside) is the certain knowledge that someone they work with is equally astonished by their style.

We are all different. We each have filters through which we process the behavior and words of others. To improve our relationships, either at work or in our personal lives, it is necessary for us to treat others they way they want to be treated, not the way we would want to be treated if the roles were reversed.

For example, I can be very direct. Over the years I’ve had to learn to identify those I can be direct with without causing ruffled feathers and those I cannot.  I’m also a hugger. Same thing. Although it surprises me, I know there are people who just don’t care to be hugged –at least by me. (Smile.)

A quick and effective way to find out how to interact with team members, your boss or your family is to observe how they do it. If you have someone in your life, for example, who always apologizes for interrupting, it’s a good guess that, when it’s time for you to interact with him/her, apologizing for it would go a long way toward creating rapport.

Maybe there’s someone who routinely approaches you and announces how long the interaction is going to take. He might say, “Do you have 10 minutes to go over this with me?” Clearly he values time so letting him know how long an interaction is going to take will help establish rapport. 

There are people who begin every interaction by asking about your family or your lunch or a TV show you like. These are people who want some personal connection before jumping to the point. Even if it drives you crazy to do it, when you ask about something in their lives, you will establish rapport.

Successful salespeople do this as a matter of course. Many make notes in their clients’ files outlining the best approach. They will tell you that, in the end, it saves a lot of time. Once rapport is established, the rest of the interaction goes much more quickly.

Change Your Focus; Change Your Life!

To schedule a FREE 20-minute phone consultation about how you can make your work communication more effective, call 480-560-9452 or email

Click here for a PRINTABLE PDF

Definitions Matter

One of the easier communication problems to solve revolves around our tendency to think that others understand what we mean when we use a term. Let’s take “customer service,” as an example.

If you have been tasked with improving customer service, what exactly does that mean? How is customer service being defined?

If you’re in leadership and have young people on your team, where might they have even experienced good customer service? They may be thinking “the Apple store” with its controlled chaos while you’re thinking “Nordstrom’s” with its classical piano playing in the background. Not only do different generations differ in their understanding of terms, individuals within each generation do, as well. So when you are delegating or being delegated to, find out whether the definitions of the terms being used match. This saves a lot of wasted effort and frustration.

The Golden Phrase: “As Evidenced By”

Years ago a nurse manager told me a story that has always stuck with me:

When I work with my employees on performance improvement, I make sure they understand exactly what is required. I cannot simply tell them to increase the quality of patient care; I must say, “Increase the quality of patient care as evidenced by an increase in positive patient survey scores and a reduction in the number of formal complaints.” (For example)

Giving people edicts to improve something without telling them what it should look like is unfair and sets up a “no win” situation.

Always answer the unspoken question, “How will we measure success?” and make sure everyone is on the same page by defining terms.

Change Your Focus; Engage Your Team!

To schedule a FREE 20-minute phone consultation about how you can make your work communication more effective, call 480-560-9452 or email  

Click here for a Printable PDF

Reducing Your Stress NOW

When I was 36, I was diagnosed with clinical depression and told by my doctor that I had been living with it for over 30 years.

Being a stoic and hardy New Englander, I was determined to figure out how to move out of depression as quickly as possible. Many of the lessons I learned along that path are applicable to quickly getting out of stress:

1. Ask yourself, “Is everything okay right this minute?” If the answer is yes, then you are likely engaged in forecasting the future or, as it’s more commonly known, worrying.

a. ACTION ITEM:  Turn your focus from hat could go wrong to what’s going right and your shoulders will

Smile on sand

2. Your brain does not know the difference between pretend and reality.

a. ACTION ITEM: Spend the rest of your day (even when alone) smiling. Your brain will get the message that you’re in a good mood and flood your system with some yummy chemicals.

3. I’m certain that, if asked, you could quickly come up with a list of 10 things you dislike about the current situation that’s causing you stress. Let’s reverse that.

a. ACTION ITEM:  Make a list of 10 things that are (or could be) good about the situation.

What I learned from battling depression is that I have a mind that, left to its own devices, will harm me. Therefore, I have to be proactive about feeding it thoughts that help instead of hurt.  I learned that I have a choice about what I can focus on but IT TAKES PRACTICE.

Using the tool of focus, I have turned around my natural tendency to look at what’s wrong and have re-trained myself to look at what’s right. Am I perfect at it? I wish! But think about this: what if you could shift the percentage of time you’re focused on things that make you feel bad? Instead of, say 85% of the time you reduced it to 75%? Then 70%? Then 65%? That’s what I did and I can honestly say that today (after over two decades of practice), I focus on the negative only 5-10% of the time. Would that be worth it?

You have a choice. Start today to focus on what makes you smile versus what makes you stressed and you will be blown away by the difference in your life—both at work and at home.

Change Your Focus; Change Your Life!

To schedule a FREE 20-minute phone consultation about how you can make your work environment less stressful, call 480-560-9452 or email

Click here for a PRINTABLE PDF

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